Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Women as Property

You will not understand the concept of women as property until you read The Forsyte Saga by John Galsworthy. This is one of my favorite books. The third book, To Let, reminds me very much of Wuthering Heights. The saga on a whole is similar to The Portrait of a Lady, incidentally. But it is the ambiguity of the characters that I enjoy, the mystery that surrounds Irene, the fascinating man that Soames is. Women are not property; they are not possessions. But Soames' obsession with Irene chillingly brings home the point when it comes to men thinking that they are.

What is more, I found the following scene strongly reminiscent of the adage regarding Tamar and Amnon in Pirkei Avot, namely that he who desires merely to possess does not truly love a thing, whereas he who desires without the will to own it does. Amnon took Tamar against her will, then threw her out. Having possessed her, he despised her. In contrast, Jonathan gave up his throne and his father's respect (and perhaps even his father's love) for David.
    Irene smiled.

    "Admiration of beauty, and longing for possession are not love. If
    yours were another case like mine, Jon--where the deepest things are
    stifled; the flesh joined, and the spirit at war!"

    "Why should it, Mother? You think she must be like her father, but
    she's not. I've seen him."

    Again the smile came on Irene's lips, and in Jon something wavered;
    there was such irony and experience in that smile.

    "You are a giver, Jon; she is a taker."
I shall not have this. I have learned one cannot possess, nor be possessed. It is destructive. Of course, this is the idea behind Bruriah, R' Meir and the story of the pikadon as well. People are not possessions. As for this quote of Irene's, I find it very true. I cannot have it that the "deepest things are stifled, the flesh joined, and the spirit at war." The deepest things must be understood, else what is woman but an actress, pretending her life away in the company of someone who will not allow her the freedom she needs like air? If I cannot breathe, what use is it? I will have the deepest things understood. And if that cannot be, I suppose I shall simply learn how to be enough by myself.


Anonymous said...

You might find it instructive to do a survey of what people thought they would be when they were post graduates and what they later turned out to be.
Joel Rich

Anonymous said...

Chana,you said:" I cannot have it that the "deepest things are stifled, the flesh joined, and the spirit at war." The deepest things must be understood...."

Deepest things will be understood as long as one's relationship with another is based on consideration, effective communication, trust honor, support , love and mutual respect.
Somehow you don't strike me as someone who won't be understood, although I understand fully well that it takes two to tango, at least based on my personal dating experiences

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 1:45 -It's not enouh that people think they understand each other or agree on issues. This is because the really crucial thing is that they both have the same natures. If they do then they will always get each other and be happy together. If they don't, then no matter how 'compatible' they seemed on paper, they will dislike each other more and more the more they see the real nature of the other and how different they are. To anonymous 9:46 -"deepest things stifled, flesh joined". This is in fact exactly the case. You may think the deepest things (nature) will be understood with communication; but when the "flesh is joined" i.e. when the person is in love or feels infatuation, even if there is no physical contact. This person(in fact both people) can be completely blind to the others' nature; each seeing the other through rose colored glasses. If the "flesh is joined" then this is all the more so. Eventually the infatuation stage fades and what you're left with is reality. Then it becomes clear, do you really love each other (love the person/the nature that the other is becase it is just like you)? Or was it the in love feeling or physical contact. Are you still good friends? Or did the infatuation just make if feel good to be around each other. Do you really love the person for who they are? Or did the infatuation just completely blind you to who they are, and now you see the truth and don't like this type of person at all as you're not at all the same? I am not screaming out against falling in love. This is a natural process and it is beautiful and bonds 2 people in the beginning. But, after it wears off, if the relationship was founded on the infatuation and not on both parties being the same (in nature, not in every minutia)then it will not be a happy result. Some people can see things immediately (Yaakov "sees" Rachel and immediately knows, David Hamelech knows "sees" and knows immediately that the natures are the same (but acts innapropriately). But for most it must be learned through observation and being honest with oneself despite feelings of love.i.e. Ruts' tzniut being seen when she is gathering from the field. Eliezer looking for someone who will do gmilut chassadim. Rivkah in fact covers her face and only when Yitzchak brings her to the tent does he see that thy are right for each other. If you want to see a bad example check out Shimshon hagibor. 'Eyzehu Gibor, Hakovesh et Yitzro'.

Anonymous1:45 said...

'I will have the deepest things understood' This is certainly good and logical as is everythig before it. Then you say 'and if that can not be I suppose I shall simply learn to be enough by myslef'. Don't you think you're a bit young to be opening the door to giving up. Why you you even assume the possibility of an ' if that cannot be' scenario. After all you're quite insightful; your powers of reasoning and observation are not lacking. And, of course Hashem will help you and you'll pray/talk to Hashem. I actually just recently read some of your blogs from the past couple of months. On the one hand you're not unconfident in your abilities. Yet you are so sensitive to and affected by the comments of others, even when you clearly are in the right and are more honest and rational then they are. You don't have to take the whole world and the whole future on your sholders. Leave your burden onto Hashem and trust in Hashem. The future is Gods perview, all you have to do is do the right things now and be happy. In your conversations with God, you seem almost as though you're anticipating a bad outcome; yet you clearly know that God loves you. Pouring your heart out to God is good but anticipating bad is not good.Why not also try talking to God in happiness and when you are happy. parent doesn't on;y want to see the child when they are sad of anticipating (for no logical reason) bad in their future. I just want to add that if for any reason my comments or, my commenting on your blog bothers you or makes you uncomfortable in any way or for any reason then please put a comment for me to stop and I will not comment on your site again. It is not my intention to annoy or god forbid harass. I've never really comented on a blog or really read a blog, so I don't know and may not be aware if I am overstepping my bounds and commenting too personaly or giving advice when I don't even know you. So please just be aware that if it bothers you in any way then just say the word and I'll stop commenting on your site.

JG said...

That's not the adage in Pirkei Avot, that's an interpretation of the adage in Pirkei Avot.